British Reports of Drone Success: Fact or Fiction?

British papers report that the Hizbullah drone spied on strategic sites. Meet the authors: An anti-Israeli journalist and a fiction writer.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Destruction of the UAV
Destruction of the UAV
Courtesy: IDF Spokesperson

Two British newspapers report that the Hizbullah drone spied on strategic sites, but the authors are an anti-Israeli journalist and a fiction writer.

The report in the London Sunday Times today contained essentially the same material that was posted last week in the London Telegraph by blogger Jake Wallis Simons, whose credentials are listed as a ”Telegraph features writer, a novelist, and a broadcaster for BBC Radio 4. His novels include…a thriller about the Mossad which he wrote under the name Jake Simons.”

Arutz Sheva studied the report last week and decided not to publish it because of its doubtful accuracy.

The report in the Sunday Times contained basically the same material but was credited to “sources” by the author, Uzi Mahnaimi. He is a former Israeli, and previous articles he has written have assured readers that Israel is about to attack Iran and that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is going to send 20,000 troops into Gaza.

Mahnaimi several years wrote a fanciful claim that Israel was developing a biological weapon that could destroy all Arabs without harming Jews, as a result of isolating Arab-only genes and targeting them. Among Mahnaimi’s previous literary achievements is his co-authoring a book with Bassam Abu Sharif, former senior adviser to Yasser Arafat.

The Guardian and Times reports claimed that the drone launched by Hizbullah sneaked under Israel's radar by being wrapped in fiberglass.

The drone took “images of ballistic missile sites, main airfields and possibly the Dimona reactor,” Mahnaimi told readers.

Simons wrote in the Guardian last week, “Undetected, it [the drone] flew the length of Israel, paying particular attention to gas and oil facilities and the industrial area of Haifa. It also flew over the Navy bases located there, including the top-secret base of Flotilla 13, a well-known commando unit. More worryingly still, it passed the Palmachim air base and had ample chance to survey Nahal Sorek, thought to be one of the key sites of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons. Eventually, it was detected and shot down by fighter jets.”

Neither the Times nor the Guardian article explains how Israel suddenly detected the drone if it was not detectable. If it had been spotted by the naked eye, it would have been seen by many people in the populous metropolitan Tel Aviv region.

Nor do the articles explain how the drone photographed the reactor site from its trajectory. The IDF said it spotted the drone at the Gaza Coast and followed it as it made a U-turn northward, possibly as a result of an IDF cyber attack that re-routed it from the direction of Dimona. The drone flew to the rural Southern Hevron Hills, where an F-16 missile exploded it.

The site of the explosion is unquestioned since it occurred a short distance from this writer’s home. The explosion was heard by local residents who had left synagogue on the Sabbath around 10 a.m., and smoke was seen rising from the area of the blast.

Dimona is located southeast of the site of the explosion, meaning there was no way the drone could have approached the area unless it actually flew east to Dimona and only then reversed direction.